Why I Give: Carlos Guerrero

Today, we hear from Carlos Guerrero, parent of a Gustavo, a 2016 & 2017 camper. Carlos talks about Camp Rising Sun from a parent’s point of view. He discusses how Gustavo's life in the Dominican Republic has significantly transformed, as "CRS gave him a voice, a sense of belonging, confidence, maturity, and unconditional friendship."

Two summers ago, my son found out about a camp located in upstate NY - one we had never heard of. After a series of interviews, essays, countless emails, and prayers, he was fortunate to be selected as an at-large candidate. The day came, and we sent him off to NYC, not knowing what the future had in store for him.

We followed the camp Facebook page, and from day one we began to see a huge difference in his demeanor: HE WAS ALWAYS SMILING. Days went by, and our only way of knowing about him was through those pictures. The saying is “a picture is worth a thousand words” - in this case, I would call it a million All 60 "brothers," as he calls them, looked engaged and united in the task at hand. Little did we know that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Fast forward to his arrival back to the Dominican Republic. The moment he stepped outside immigration, we could see the kid we sent to CRS was not the young fellow that returned.

His shoulders were higher and wider, he spoke with a more confident voice, and he finally hugged all of us without being asked! As soon as he arrived at school, he entered with an enthusiasm and determination unknown to mankind, but that was not the only difference - he began volunteering in more clubs than before and helping his peers, all this while maintaining a high GPA.

He also found his voice and became much more participatory in class; when asked about this, he told me CRS had allowed him to express his point of views in an intellectually advanced setting where he felt safe - this is one of the lessons that will be with him forever.  As his confidence grew, he began taking on leadership roles in his community, be it varsity basketball, varsity volleyball, or various clubs.

He continued to be involved with CRS by reading its history, attending online board meetings, etc. He always says that Freddy's price of admission was to pay it forward, and he feels it’s the least he can do for a place that has done so much for him.

He applied for second-year camper and he was fortunate to receive an invitation. He took this opportunity and responsibility with a much different mindset than before - as a leader.

His conversation with his new brothers were deeper and more intense and his insight on worldviews changed. At an interview for United World College, he was asked if he had friends from different religions (DR is 95% Catholic) and his response was, “I have 22 brothers from different religions and I love them all the same.”

He plans to always be involved with CRS, be it as a counselor, fundraiser, guest speaker, or even a board member. He feels CRS profoundly changed his life for the better.

As parents, we see a huge difference in our son. CRS gave him a voice, a sense of belonging, confidence, maturity, and unconditional friendship. It opened his eyes to the world and gave him the maturity and determination to be a better student, family member, and friend.

Gustavo says he will always be involved with CRS, but so too will our whole family. We will forever be grateful to all the people who work in order to keep the Foundation going and the countless hours they dedicate so these kids have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

As our son said in a radio interview, CRS is the best thing that will happen to you in a decade.

Thank you, CRS!